1. Do we need to get matching rings?
The most common question I get asked is 'Should a couple wear matching rings?' I have seen many answers to this question over the years, but my personal opinion is NO, the rings do not need to match. My feeling is if a couple is comprised of two individuals, it is perfectly okay to maintain that individuality by each getting a ring that suits their personal tastes. Having said that, I offer options that allow couples to choose similar designs that can be customized for each partner's taste: same rings, different looks.
2. Should we get engagement rings or wedding bands or both?
I am a strong believer in getting engaged. It always seems to me that in our struggles to achieve marriage equality, same-sex couples skip a very important part of the longtime relationship, the engagement. So: Get Engaged! I am just beginning to see more couples insisting on that nice shiny diamond (or other stone) on their finger for a period of time before the wedding. With so many options as to how to make a wedding set out of an engagement ring and wedding band, everyone is sure to find one that works on his or her finger. I suggest looking into non-conventional ideas for the rings. An engagement ring DOES NOT need to be the old fashioned traditional ring with a single stone standing tall in a high setting. There are ways to make a set of rings that are classy, elegant and timeless.
3. What hand do we wear our rings on?
This is a tricky one. Some claim the hand you choose depends on if you are straight or gay. Others suggest it is your religious background that dictates which hand to wear your rings. Usually, I find that a straight couples wears their rings on the left hand whereas a gay couple will wear them on the right. I also know of many women who wear their engagement ring on left hand, and once the wedding band is added at the wedding, they switch the engagement ring to the right hand and wear the rings individually. I think it is a personal decision. My preference is right hand for both an engagement ring and/or the wedding band.
4. Do the rings have to be Gold? Silver? Platinum?
Obviously there is no right or wrong metal when choosing a wedding ring. Though I notice the metal of choice by most is gold, with platinum making up about 20% of selections. Silver is an affordable substitute, but not as durable in keeping its shine and luster over time, so may need to be thought out. I always remind people that if these are rings that they plan on wearing every day for the rest of their lives together, they need to consider something durable and long lasting, though care and long-term treatment of any metal would help the longevity of any ring.
5. Who proposes to whom?
Ah. An interesting question. The answers are plentiful here, simply because the dynamics of each relationship is different. I find there are couples who choose to have the discussion on whether or not they would like to get engaged and then married, in which case the proposal is less of an issue than the purchasing of the rings. However, when one partner decides on taking that step of commitment and would like to surprise their significant other with a proposal of matrimony, there is never a right or wrong answer as to who decides to go first and propose. Unlike straight couples where the norm is to have the guy woo the girl and ask for her hand, in same-sex couples I feel both are in a position to do the proposing.
6. Should we shop together or surprise each other?
I do find many couples shop together for their rings, meaning they discuss ahead of time their plans, make decisions together and get their rings at the same time in full sight of each other's choices. However, every now and then I get the romantic who walks in -- be it male or female -- who wants to get that special someone an engagement ring and 'pop the question.' Those stories always tug at my heartstrings, and I find that with the acceptance of engagements among same-sex couples, these are becoming more frequent. The interesting thing is what happens next. When one partner proposes to the other, is a reciprocal exchange required? Again I have to say each couple is different, but the norm is usually that the partner who was proposed to first will then want to go out and get his/her now fianc'e a ring as well.
7. How long before a wedding (or proposal) should we be shopping for rings?
It usually takes me, as a jeweler, anywhere from two to three weeks to make a ring from start to finish. I normally sell designs that already exist and just need to be created to the specifications (finger size, gold color, etc.) of the customer. However, when custom-designing a bespoke ring, sometimes that may add a week or two. Other stores may offer anywhere from one week to six weeks waiting time, so take into account enough lead time if you have a special date in mind.
8. What if I do not know his (or her) finger size?
Though ring sizes can be modified after the fact, I always suggest getting a more accurate measurement before ordering your rings. If you are shopping together, naturally walking into a jewelry store and asking to get your fingers measured is always a good idea. Another suggestion is long before you even think of getting rings to have both your fingers measured and writing it down somewhere, for that 'someday' when one of you may need it. And of course, the ultimate 'I want to surprise him or her' what do I do now' scenario comes to mind. In those cases, borrowing a ring the partner will not miss for a day or two and have it sized at a local jeweler would be sufficient to get the finger size. If that doesn't work, perhaps getting the aid of a friend or family member to ask or have the partner get sized while shopping may produce the needed information. Finally, not as accurate, but better than nothing, there is a great ring sizing chart here that may help.
For a ringsizer, click here.
9. Does it have to be rings?
Though traditionally we have all grown up seeing rings as symbolic of a couple's love and commitment towards one another, over the years I've seen couples that have chosen to get bracelets or pendants instead. In my opinion, rings symbolize our bond much stronger than a linked chain around the neck or wrist, but either will do keeping in mind it's really the symbolism that matters.
10. What should be the budget?
Naturally budget is a personal decision based on many variables, but I always suggest a couple first consider the amount they feel is within their means. Next, go look at rings without purchasing. Online surfing is a good way to get ideas at price ranges. I find many people are surprised at what their budget actually allows them to purchase. After gathering some data, revisit your budget. Consider either maintaining the budget you started with, or adjusting the budget according to what is out there. You'll be able to find a ring within any budget, it may simply take some time and require some compromising on quality or size, but every budget has a ring out there.
Most importantly, once you decide on a budget, it is very, very easy to be tempted to raise it. Try to avoid the temptations! Keep in mind a typical same-sex couple interested in both engagement rings and wedding bands are talking about potentially purchasing 4 rings over the course of the engagement. These rings can easily fit any budget, as long as you don't get tempted to overstep your perimeters.
My final words of advice: Make the experience a fun one! Enjoy the browsing, shopping, and surfing, whether you do it together or individually. So'Get Engaged! Get Married! And Live Happily Ever After!
For more information on Rony Tennenbaum and his designs, visit his website here. or visit him in person at 252 Mott Street in New York City (917) 575-9566